Quite a few points I feel worth responding to here.
Firstly, the store was the one at:
2955 NORTHTOWNE LANE
The store manager was [removed by Mod - do not post people's names in a complaint on ePlaya. Direct that to the store or corporation, not here
]. I never met him as he had a medical issue when I was in town. Most of my communication was by email over the preceeding year (being out of town) but I did call the store a few times to clarify things. One of his comments afterwards in trying to address it all afterwards was that I should have spoken more with him directly. My response was that if you offer an email & phone call customer service with a "Pro Desk" then that shouldn't be a 2nd class service (and if it is, let people know...
In terms of some seeing eye's
comment, my understanding is that HD do have a special relationship with BM/gate. They would have been allowed into the city and to drop off the order at the build site if we'd been with them - it had all been arranged and Bettie June at the Artery had been great about sorting all that out. In fact she was even greater in helping to come up with a plan B at the last minute. Do bear in mind that to some degree I'd anticipated the delivery issue which is why some of the team were in place in the store 24 hours ahead of scheduled departure to check and go over everything. Everything seemed to be fine. Apart from have some people camp overnight at the store on top of the order and make sure the order didn't leave the grounds unattended the next day I'm not sure what else we could have done to prevent that one without hindsight.
An in-town facilitator for all the big art projects might help but at the same time that's not too radically self-reliant and I did plan to be all over this in Reno.knowmad
- Thanks for the tip about corporate accounts, something well worth bearing in mind for the future with projects of this magnitude. I can't even really imagine what it's like to run a project the size of Wall St! Kudos to your team for pulling it off.Captain Goddammit
- thanks for your view too. You're correct, HD use an external company to do the delivery, so what you're saying makes sense. But in my very earliest conversations with HD (about a year in advance), I made it crystal clear that because of my location and when our team would be in Reno (flights booked), they HAD to commit to a particular delivery date. I let them dictate the time, just not the date. I said multiple times "If you can't do this, just tell me and I'll look elsewhere". Throughout a long string of communication and even with us being on site in Reno 2 days before I was only ever told the delivery plan was all fine. I'd repeatedly explained that the ONLY way the delivery would work is if someone was there to let them in and that they were being granted a special privilege to enter the city this way. HD and Burning Man is not a new relationship - they know that unless there's someone there to take a delivery it will be turned around, no exceptions, and that's never in anyone's interests. They knew we were all in Reno. For them to screw this up is just bad communication and in a relationship of this importance (between HD & the delivery company) that's just not on, no excuses. ygmir
- yep, there's always SNAFU's but with the amount of planning, communication and prep I did with this store I think the particular ways they let us down was really taking the biscuit (and I've only listed the major ones). If they had handled this well AFTER the event I wouldn't be on here telling people about it. The manager even said "What can I do to make this right" a number of times. I told him I didn't want to dictate that, and they should do what they felt was appropriate. So they suggested a relative pittance which didn't even vaguely cover my unnecessary additional expense. I said "Don't bother" to which they replied again, "so what do you want?" Feeling forced to answer this, I said, you have to refund the money you costed me. But what would be an excellent customer service gesture would be to refund my team a day of their time which would really engender some goodwill to a soured relationship. Because of their delays, we ended up building all Monday when we should have finished on Sunday. Of course, the team knew nothing of my suggestion and would have probably said "no worries, we're burners, we were happy to help" but I felt bad that they'd lost a day of the event. Bearing in mind some of these people had travelled from across the US and many from the UK who have limited holiday and were partly there for my wedding. I told HD that if they didn't do anything above reimburse me for my excess expenditure, then it was going to leave a bad taste in my mouth and I'd be vocal about that within the burner community. They chose to just reimburse and not a dollar more. It really wouldn't have taken that much to turn me around and make me feel better about it. I shouldn't have had to work so hard just to get my additional delivery fee refunded (months!). If I was in charge of a HD store in Reno and knowing the burner community and how much revenue it brings in, I'd have made damned
sure that if this happened on my watch that customer walked away feeling as good as they could, even if that single transaction meant a hefty loss. You only have to look at what happened with Krug, plus other similar examples, to see what kind of negative brand image a company can get through a perceived uncaring attitude.
Also, whilst the order was quite big ($5k) it was essentially pretty simple in terms of components and their prep. There were only 2 components. OSB boards and 2x3 lumber, just a lot of it. Some of it needed cutting and 98% of that was done right. So not too big a deal, IMHO. All the other stuff we organised ourselves in the store with carts.
If I had a local supervisor in Reno I sure would have used them. But unfortunately all my US crew were dotted around all over the place and I didn't really want to use someone I didn't know/trust. I'm sure I could have found someone through the community but there really wasn't much more they could do than we did - it was pretty simple compared to some orders. And we did have people on the ground in the store 2 days before we were due to leave.
We did liaise with some burners based in Reno who pointed us at a place we could use as a temporary workshop which was useful though.
I think it's fair to say that some of the "challenges" we dealt with were because this was run from the UK and used a group that spread well into various US states. But at the same time, most of the big issues we dealt with were because of a poor communication structure within HD.
So in retrospect, maybe a local person in Reno would have helped and that's certainly something to bear in mind for the future. I also think the Burner Profiles/Community will help with this. Perhaps having someone in Reno (and beyond) offer to work across and with the major art projects and help pool and co-ordinate deliveries would be really cool - I'd certainly tap into that if available, being overseas.
Of course we had all sorts of usual SNAFUs and incidents during the build and almost all those were overcome by typical burner attitude. We had a number of fantastic, talented, completely unknown guys just walk up and say "tell me what you need me to do" and work for 2 days, all the usual stuff that makes your heart melt and what BM is all about.
And at the end of the day, it was still a great experience, we achieved something really cool and I got to hear some kids come out of the maze and run to their waiting parents and say "Mom! That was the coolest thing EVER! Can we do it again tomorrow at night!?" You don't get a greater buzz than hearing things like that.
Thanks also to ACfromSAC, that's a great compliment to a maze designer!
And to end on another positive note, it's not put me off doing projects like this co-ordinated from the UK. This year I'll just do some music videos (as if the maze & wedding wasn't enough, we did the "Burning Man Has a Kiki" & "Imagine" music videos in 2012...) and be a volunteer for a change to have that experience. But I'm already working on our large-scale, interactive 2014 project. Right now it looks virtually impossible to pull off, just from a design perspective, let alond build. Which just makes it more appealing...
Thanks for the responses everyone!